Background: Topical calcineurin inhibitors are licensed for the treatment of atopic dermatitis; however, the efficacy of tacrolimus in cutaneous lupus erythematosus (CLE) has only been shown in single case reports.
Objective: In a multicenter, randomized, double-blind, vehicle-controlled trial, we sought to evaluate the efficacy of tacrolimus 0.1% ointment for skin lesions in CLE.
Methods: Thirty patients (18 female, 12 male) with different subtypes of CLE were included, and two selected skin lesions in each patient were treated either with tacrolimus 0.1% ointment or vehicle twice daily for 12 weeks. The evaluation included scoring of clinical features, such as erythema, hypertrophy/desquamation, edema, and dysesthesia.
Results: Significant improvement (P < .05) was seen in skin lesions of CLE patients treated with tacrolimus 0.1% ointment after 28 and 56 days, but not after 84 days, compared with skin lesions treated with vehicle. Edema responded most rapidly to tacrolimus 0.1% ointment and the effect was significant (P < .001) in comparison to treatment with vehicle after 28 days. Clinical score changes in erythema also showed remarkable improvement (P < .05) after 28 days, but not after 56 and 84 days. Moreover, patients with lupus erythematosus tumidus revealed the highest degree of improvement. None of the patients with CLE demonstrated any major side effects.
Limitations: The study was limited by the small sample size.
Conclusion: Explorative subgroup analyses revealed that topical application of tacrolimus 0.1% ointment may provide at least temporary benefit, especially in acute, edematous, non-hyperkeratotic lesions of CLE patients, suggesting that calcineurin inhibitors may represent an alternative treatment for the various disease subtypes.
Copyright © 2010 American Academy of Dermatology, Inc. Published by Mosby, Inc. All rights reserved.